Jurisdiction: What is it and Should You be Concerned About It?
If you were harmed in Florida, whether it be by being injured, or a business related civil case such as breach of contract, you may just assume that because you live in Florida, and were harmed in Florida, that you can sue in Florida. But it’s not that simple. In order to sue a person or company in Florida, a Florida court has to have what’s known as personal jurisdiction over the entity that you are suing.
Why Worry About Jurisdiction?
In most cases, jurisdiction isn’t an issue, because it’s obvious that the Defendant can be sued in Florida. The store where you fell obviously does business in Florida. Your business partner who breached a contract obviously lives, or at least did business in Florida. The store that cheated you sold you a product in Florida. The car that hit you was driving on a Florida road.
These are easy cases (when it comes to personal jurisdiction), and usually, the Defendant won’t argue that it cannot be sued in Florida. But in some cases, jurisdiction does become a problem.
When is Jurisdiction a Problem?
In today’s world, products and services can be sold all over the world, either directly to consumers, or to manufacturers. Many of the items that you buy are made up of numerous parts, which may all come from or be manufactured in various parts of the globe. Business deals can be done with companies that are located anywhere, and many services, such as call centers or fulfillment centers, are located in foreign countries.
Suing these kinds of companies can raise jurisdiction issues, because the companies will argue that it was not foreseeable that they could be sued in Florida, and that the companies do not have what is known as minimum contacts with the state of Florida.
Finding Jurisdiction Over a Person or Entity
Businesses that advertise in Florida, or those who contract with Florida residents for services to be performed in Florida, have minimum contacts with the state. Anytime a company takes actions that make it reasonable to think the company could be sued in Florida, the company (or person) can be sued here.
With products, it can sometimes be helpful to ask whether the “end user” could be anticipated to be in Florida. For example, a company that sells a product online and ships nationally, can assume that it is doing business in Florida. However, a company that makes and sells a product overseas, may not ever assume that its product will end up in Florida, much less that it could be sued here, especially if the company does not advertise in Florida, or solicit its product to Florida residents.
In business lawsuits, often companies have holding companies, subsidiaries, or related entities, that may not have any contact with Florida. It may take some investigation to discover which company is liable for damages, and how to show that they anticipated that they could be sued in Florida.
Be prepared for any defense, problem or argument that may be made in your civil litigation lawsuit. Contact the Miami civil litigation attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today with any questions you may have.